The diversity and taxonomic relationships of 83 bean-nodulating rhizobia indigenous to Ethiopian soils were characterized by PCR-RFLP of the internally transcribed spacer (ITS) region between the 16S and 23S rRNA genes, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE), and amplified fragment-length polymorphism. The isolates fell into 13 distinct genotypes according to PCR-RFLP analysis of the ITS region. Based on MLEE, the majority of these genotypes (70%) was genetically related to the type strain of Rhizobium leguminosarum. However, from analysis of their 16S rRNA genes, the majority was placed with Rhizobium etli. Transfer and recombination of the 16S rRNA gene from presumptively introduced R. etli to local R. leguminosarum is a possible theory to explain these contrasting results. However, it seems unlikely that bean rhizobia originating from the Americas (or Europe) extensively colonized soils of Ethiopia because Rhizobium tropici, Rhizobium gallicum, and Rhizobium giardinii were not detected and only a single ineffective isolate of R. etli that originated from a remote location was identified. Therefore, Ethiopian R. leguminosarum may have acquired the determinants for nodulation of bean from a low number of introduced bean-nodulating rhizobia that either are poor competitors for nodulation of bean or that failed to survive in the Ethiopian environment. Furthermore, it may be concluded from the genetic data presented here that the evidence for separating R. leguminosarum and R. etli into two separate species is inconclusive.
Kassa, Serawit; Beyene, Desta; Ampy, Franklin; Asseffa, Amha; Gebremedhin, Tadesse; and Van Berkum, Peter, "Ethiopian soils harbor natural populations of rhizobia that form symbioses with common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)" (2004). Department of Biology Faculty Publications. 60.